Happy birthday to SWISS! On July 15th, it celebrated the fifth anniversary of the first commercial flight of the Bombardier C-Series (since renamed the Airbus A220), for which it was the launch customer of the smallest variant: the CS-100. This came less than two months after it received its 30th – and for now last – A220.
The Zurich-hubbed carrier is one of only two airlines worldwide to operate both series of the A220 (the -100 and -300), joining Delta. Despite SWISS being the world’s second-largest user of the A220, the type remains dominated by the United States. However, Air France is set to take delivery of the first of its A220-300s in September, of which it had 60 on order.
Happy 5th Anniversary A220 ✈️🥳
Today five years ago, we operated the world's first commercial flight of an Airbus A220 from Zurich to Paris. Throwback to the arrival at Zurich airport. Here's to many more years A220✈️ @airbus @prattandwhitney pic.twitter.com/pBD7fCDMmA
— Swiss Intl Air Lines (@FlySWISS) July 15, 2021
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Happy fifth birthday!
The world’s first revenue-generating flight by the CS-100 (since renamed the A220-100) was on July 15th, 2016. The honor went to HB-JBA on flight LX638 from Zurich to Paris CDG, some 297 miles apart. SWISS had received eight CS-100s by the time the first CS-300 (now A220-300) arrived in May 2017.
Fast-forwarding to 2021, SWISS’ A220s have marginally over four million seats, according to schedule information provided to data experts OAG. They will be used on over 100 routes and more than seven in ten movements will be from Zurich, the rest from Geneva.
The type has over one-third of SWISS’ total capacity this year (a significant chunk) and one in five seats by all A220s worldwide. As with larger variants of other aircraft, the -300 is more popular. It has 63% of SWISS’ A220 output this year.
Why did SWISS order them?
Aside from the obvious reason of trying to achieve greater profitability by reducing costs from lower fuel consumption, the type was acquired for various reasons. This includes replacing the Avro RJ-100 (which fully exited in 2017) and also the A319 (2020).
They were also acquired to help achieve SWISS’ environmental goals. These include halving carbon emissions by 2030 (based on the level in 2019). As the airline’s CEO, Dieter Vranckx, commented:
“Investing in the latest aircraft technologies and in synthetic aircraft fuels are two of the most effective levers in reducing our carbon emissions. The A220 also emits 50% less nitrogen oxide and is substantially quieter, too, which is appreciated not only by our passengers but also by local airport residents.”
A look at SWISS’ A220-100s
SWISS has nine A220-100s, each with 125 seats in a two-three layout. As is common in Europe, there is not a proper business class. Instead, the middle seat remains empty, ensuring a very flexible cabin based on business demand (which obviously delivers much higher unit revenue). This flexibility also helps to ensure the type can be used on many different missions.
The A220-100s have an average age of 4.4 years, according to ch-aviation.com. Geneva-Frankfurt sees the most flights this year, followed by Zurich-Paris CDG (the original), Zurich-Frankfurt, Zurich-London City (thanks to the steep approach capability), and Zurich-Geneva.
And the larger brother: the A220-300
While the A220-300 has the same flexible cabin as its smaller sibling, they have 145 seats. This is some seven more than the A319. This year, the -300 is most used on Geneva to London Heathrow, while Zurich-Berlin, Zurich-Geneva, Zurich-Heathrow, and Zurich-Nice round out the top-five routes.
Across both A220 variants, the longest route is Geneva to the Egyptian resort of Hurghada, some 2,004 miles away. This shows how flexible the A220 can be, something that new entrant Breeze is keen to benefit from.
Have you flown the A220? Share your experiences with us by commenting.